I was intrigued to learn that…
Philip Morris launched a new quit smoking campaign a couple of weeks ago
A new quit smoking campaign? How many have they launched? When are Harley Davidson going to launch a quit biking campaign? Or Chanel going to launch a quit scent campaign? How many other companies are going to tell people to stop buying their products?
Perhaps it’s the new way of marketing stuff. Negative advertising – as trialed by Tobacco Control’s “plain” packaging. Tell people not to buy things. Don’t ever buy Product X. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life. You’ll probably have people queuing round the block to buy it.
Participants are given four options on how to go ‘smoke free’:
Quit smoking cigarettes
Quit with cessation products
Switch to e-cigarettes
Switch to heated tobacco
Maybe it’s that Philip Morris have decided that the future is in e-cigarettes or heat-not-burn tobacco, And they may be right. In which case they’re trying to wean people off tobacco, and onto something else they sell. Don’t buy our motorbikes: buy our new flying bicycles instead.
Over on Taking Liberties, commenters were saying that PM had been taken over by antismokers. And maybe it has. But I thought that PM might be being very clever. Fiendishly clever.
After all, in the manichean universe of Tobacco Control, tobacco companies like Philip Morris are the embodiment of pure evil. So what does Tobacco Control do when the Devil himself starts telling people to Be Good and Stop Smoking? Are they going to agree with Philip Morris? Or are they going to say: Don’t listen to them, carry on smoking. Could they ever get themselves to agree with anything anyone in Big Tobacco says? Can the Lord Of Lies ever speak truth? By swapping sides – or appearing to swap sides – Philip Morris may have wrong-footed Tobacco Control.
But there’s another fiendishly clever thing to this:
But here’s the twist. The campaign suggests that smokers should invite friends and family to support their efforts to stop smoking by making ‘commitments to help you stay motivated’.
cooking you dinner every week for a month
looking after your pet when you’re on holiday
helping to redecorate your living room
go speed dating with you
Well, if other people want you to stop smoking, shouldn’t they help out? Shouldn’t they do something about it?
And if they are to do something about it, why not take a leaf out of the Tobacco Control playbook, and start bullying you to stop smoking. After all, that’s what Tobacco Control is: a bunch of bullies. And if your friends and family can be made to become bullies, perhaps they’ll finally realise that Tobacco Control is just a bunch of bullies. Once other people get dragged in, they’ll have to take one side or the other.
For that’s the trouble with Tobacco Control’s manichean universe. They cast themselves as saints, and tobacco companies and smokers as sinners, but it’ll take just one half turn of the wheel of fortune for them to find the roles reversed.
And I think that this is what’s almost bound to happen, because Tobacco Control is one of the most divisive and destructive forces currently loose in the world. It’s not just that they’re bullies. They’re also liars. And they do a colossal amount of social damage, as they bankrupt pubs, shatter communities, set people against one another. And they do it on a global scale. And all the while loudly claiming to be on the side of the angels.
Anyway, I’m not going to join the chorus condemning Philip Morris. I think the tobacco companies are in a fight for their survival against the demonic forces in Tobacco Control, and I don’t want to help make life any harder for them than it already is,. And also I think that they may have just made a couple of smart moves. “May” being the principal operative word.